I peered down the airplane window watching the lights glow as I descended into the city of Tehran, Iran. After a long 14 hour flight, I was excited to be landing in the Mehrabad International Airport. As we descended, all the women on the plane rushed to the lavatories, changing their clothes, fixing their hair, and putting on their hijabs. I reluctantly did the same. I was now one of them.
They say that traveling opens us up to other ideas, cultures, and ways of living life. This is something we all know, and more than likely is a part of the reason why many travel.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
The use of traveling is to regulate our imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are. However, the mainstream media, as many know love to paint a picture about certain countries in the world. They give a contrastive perspective of the lives there, changing people’s minds including mine. I never thought in my whole life that I would ever visit the country of Iran. I expected Iran to be just how it was portrayed in the media. It was a developing country trying to excel by constructing a nuclear bomb; the people protesting for their rights. It was something I was used to hearing, but not used to seeing. I did not want to go; yet, my parents insisted me to visit their homeland.
Motorcycles passed by, the smell of food diffused into the air, voices haggled loudly: welcome to the Grand Bazaar of Tehran. That was what I saw. A wide range of goods covered the market: Persian rugs, household goods, bridal dresses, baby apparel. As I walked by the goods and products, my preconceived notion slowly dissipated into the aroma of the vegetable stew and baked bread. As I walked by it, I realized that these goods played a significant role in everyday living because they symbolized a culture. A culture that reminded me of my home in Churchville, PA. Like us, they wanted to provide for their homes. Like us, they wanted to provide for their children. Like us, they wanted and sought happiness.
I realized that though the Iranian society was different from the United States, Iran was a country of extraordinary colors and uniqueness. Although the United States and Iran are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, I understood we shared the same core values. Many want happiness. Many want love. During my travel, I saw people come together when I visited the glorious Harem of Imam Reza. Iranians stood together sharing their faith for the Imam. It was as if I was walking into a Sunday church, listening to people pray in unison for Jesus. I saw people go to the parks on their independence day as if it was the Fourth of July. Americans and Iranians value their religion and country. I began to see one big family.
We are all bound together by a single bond, under a single light, on a single path. We may be different, but we all are on the same journey of life. Traveling to Iran helped me realized how blind I truly was. I walked in as a stranger, but left knowing we are still one. I left knowing that tensions have the possibility to be relieved as long as we take the step to understand one another. Although language of the tongue is a barrier, language of humanity is what we all speak. I did not see a developing country full of terrorists, I saw something live: humanity.
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